If you’re like me, you probably worry about whether or not you’re doing enough for your brain health. After all, most of us have known someone whose family has been devastated by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
That’s why many of us take supplements to keep our brain functioning optimally, play memory games, do crossword puzzles, and in general spend a lot of time concentrating on the organ between our ears.
However, according to a new study, taking care of our brains actually starts with caring for a completely different organ…
Good heart health equals good brain health
Past scientific studies have indicated that having good cardiovascular health also offers brain health benefits and may reduce cognitive aging. However, because of the nature of the studies, it was unclear how genes and/or the environment played into the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline.
So in essence, no one really knew how important your heart was to keeping your brain healthy.
But, that’s all changed thanks to the work of researchers at Emory University and their study using pairs of twin brothers…
You see, by studying pairs of twin brothers the team was not only able to differentiate between genetic components that could impact brain health but also the nature vs. nurture phenomenon.
And, what their results all came down to was this — good heart health can lead to good brain health.
They also say that this is good news for all of us.
“Because CVH (cardiovascular health) factors are modifiable, prevention of cardiovascular risk factors and promotion of a healthy lifestyle beginning early in life should achieve the best results for promoting not only cardiovascular health but also cognitive health,” explains study co-author Ambar Kulshreshtha, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and preventive medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.
In other words, improving your heart health is not only do-able, but it can also be easy which in turn makes improving your brain health easy too.
Seven modifiable risk factors
In fact, the American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health across seven modifiable risk factors. These include:
- Blood sugar
- Serum cholesterol
- Blood pressure
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Physical activity
- Cigarette smoking
Getting a higher CVH score point means that you have better heart health and are at lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
And, here’s where the easy part comes in…
If you take a look at that list, controlling the last three alone can have an enormous impact on the other four, meaning that if you simply eat better, exercise more and stop smoking, you could actually:
- Lose weight and improve your BMI
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Improve your blood sugar
Not as hard as you thought it would be, right?
So, it all comes down to this — if you want a healthy heart and the healthy brain that comes with it, get active, watch your diet and ditch the cigarettes for good… Simple advice for superior brain health for life.
Editor’s note: Our brains face an uphill battle from the start. So it’s important not to do anything that could make it harder to keep a sharp mind as you age. But millions of people take a pill every day that robs it of an essential nutrient. Are you one of them? Click here to find out!